Amanda Murphy “made an ‘oops’ not long ago,” she tells us, grinning. She borrowed her boyfriend’s Prada sunglasses for a motorcycle ride and “dropped them because it was so windy. I said, ‘Well, I guess I can ask Miuccia for another pair,’ then I was like, ‘Did I really just say that?’ I know her. That’s a crazy feeling.”
That Murphy “knows” the Italian fashion designer is an understatement. The IMG model opened and closed Prada’s fall 2013 show as an exclusive, and booked the house’s pre-fall campaign. And her success last season wasn’t limited to Milan--she walked exclusively for Proenza Schouler in New York and added another nine names to her client roster in Paris, including Christian Dior, Chanel, Lanvin, Hermès, and Stella McCartney. Since the end of fashion month, Murphy has appeared in editorials for Dazed & Confused, W, and Interview; she returned to the runway for J.W. Anderson’s Versus debut; and she posed for Oscar de la Renta’s resort 2014 look book.
At 26 years old, the Orland Park, Illinois native isn't fazed by her recent ascent to industry fame. “Everything happens for a reason, so it's just my turn,” she explains. Besides, Murphy is an accomplished “slashie”--not a model-slash-actress or a model-slash-musician, but a model-slash-radiology-technician. “I had work here [in Manhattan] on Friday, and Friday night, I flew home to work at the clinic on Saturday, and then Saturday after the clinic, I had to run to the airport to work here Sunday,” she says. “That’s the first and only time I’ve had a conflict. You have to spend money to make money and I’m at a growing point, so I’m okay with doing it.”
Murphy also discussed playing with Sasha Pivovarova’s baby backstage, the kindness of Alber Elbaz, and horseback riding.
Fashionista: Tell me about growing up in Chicago. Murphy: I’m from the South suburbs--Orland Park. It’s about 30 minutes outside the city. I’m the oldest of four and my dad works for the railroad and my mother is a nurse. Growing up, my mom made me try almost everything once. I did track, I did basketball, I did volleyball, but horseback riding is really my passion, which is funny, because it’s the only thing she’s scared of. When I started jumping lessons, she stopped coming with me because it scared her.
How did modeling end up on your radar? I always had an interest in it and everyone told me that I should check out agencies, so I went right to them. I started out at Factor, a Chicago agency, after an open call. From there, I went to New York, IMG signed me, and I've been with them since 2009.
I noticed that there’s a gap between your signing with IMG and right now, when your career is really picking up. In 2009, I had incredibly short hair. It was a totally different look and I did well, but I wasn’t at where I am right now, of course. At the time, I was taking college courses online for radiology tech. I did [modeling and studying] at the same time until I couldn’t anymore because I had to do two years of in-hospital work. I knew I had to take a break from modeling to do it, which was a hard decision to make.
How did you become interested in radiology tech? When I was younger, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in terms of college. I thought that I could become quite successful in the medical career, but I knew I didn’t want to do nursing, like my mom. So I went with radiology--it’s a different type of photography and I enjoy it. I’ve had a job at a clinic for one year and I think it keeps me grounded, levelheaded. And it’s good to switch things up because I can always enjoy what I’m doing. Now, I only work at the clinic about four days a month.
Let’s talk about your fall 2013 season. You were an exclusive for Proenza. Yes. I liked working with Jack [McCollough] and Lazaro [Hernandez] a lot. They’re both super dedicated and creative and their collection shows that.
The fall collection seemed more mature than their past collections. Was there a sentiment backstage, like, “This is a different thing we’re trying?” I think it’s really important for people to be able to open up and go in different directions. That’s what makes life and your career exciting--you have to be daring. Backstage was super fun. Sasha [Pivovarova] brought her baby, so everyone was fussing over that, and people were talking about the upcoming season. At that point, it had just started, so no one was exhausted yet.
Then you booked an exclusive for Prada. It’s really exciting that they picked me to be their muse and I was able to try on everything before the show. During the show--did you notice the silhouettes of the girl projected in the background? That was me! When we were doing looks, we took extra time to film in front of a green screen, but I didn’t know what it was for.
Tell me about Paris. How was Lanvin? My boyfriend was able to go out and watch the show--it was Alber [Elbaz]’s idea. It was totally unexpected and really nice of him. I would never have asked. Later, we shot an editorial featuring Lanvin [for May’s W] and it’s a picture of me and several other girls and Alber.
I want to talk about your editorial work. You posed for a dramatic photo shoot in April’s Dazed & Confused. That was also so fun. They did my makeup and put on my wig, and I went on set and at the last second, they swiped their hands across my face to mess up my lipstick. I had no idea what I looked like. You really had to jump into character for that shoot. You’re pretending to be a convicted felon or you’re in a crazy house--something like that. The shoot was based on women from the Fifties and Sixties who were arrested. They had images of them on set and made the wigs according to those pictures.
What do you do in your spare time? I spend a lot of time with my horse, Jessie. I’ve had her since she was 6 years old, and she just turned 19. She’s been a huge part of my life and she kept me out of trouble in high school. [laughs] I actually had responsibility. Right now she’s in a stable outside Chicago and they take care of everything for me, so I don’t have to worry when I leave town, and my boyfriend takes good care of her, as well.
Do you have any obsessions? Until probably six months ago, I was not a fan of exercising. I would go to the gym and not get much accomplished--I’d maybe go on the treadmill. The only thing I’d really get accomplished was spending money on the membership. But I finally found my niche--I love boxing class. I’m getting results and it’s something I like going to do.
How long do you think you’ll model for? As long as they want me. [laughs] I’m not planning on disappearing anytime soon.